Keith Mitchell, Long Beach native and Mazzy Star drummer, dies of cancer

Mazzy Star drummer and Long Beach native Keith Mitchell died May 14 after a short battle with cancer, according to his sister Mary Ellen Mitchell.

The Long Beach-born musician attended Millikan and Wilson high schools and was a Boy Scout and Tribe of Tahquitz member, his sister said.

The Santa Monica-based alternative rock group Mazzy Star posted to its Facebook page May 15: “Our hearts are broken. We have lost the much beloved Keith Mitchell, a very talented and amazing drummer that we have had the privilege to work with for many years. He will live in all of our hearts forever… We’ll miss you Big Fella.”

Mitchell was also a member of Opal, Monitor and the alt-country band Green on Red. Mitchell had joined Opal when that group’s guitarist David Roback brought in singer Hope Sandoval to join the band before it became Mazzy Star in 1989.

Mitchell drummed on all four of the group’s albums: “She Hangs Brightly,” “So Tonight That I Might See,” “Among My Swan” and “Seasons of Your Day.”

“He immersed me in different cultures and different musical influences,” son Paul Mitchell said. “That’s always something I’ll appreciate… The experience was very rewarding.”

Paul said his father’s music interest started young. He played instruments including guitar and tuba, and picked up drumming while a Boy Scout, he said. From there, Keith played with various cover bands at bars, then started a country western band, which toured nationwide.

“He was on tour with them when my mom told him she was pregnant with me,” Paul said.

He moved on to audition with Monitor as a drummer, Paul said, which was an experimental band touring the L.A.-area, and eventually landed with Opal and Mazzy Star.

“A lot of my childhood, he was on tour,” he said. “For me, it was kind of bittersweet, but I really aspire to be just like him.” Paul is a founding member of the Long Beach…

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